Fans on Technorati? How could I have missed that…

I just noticed that there is a “fan”-feature on Technorati. It may be on for years but it never really drew my attention. I have four fans!

Beside of Marian Steinbach (whom I know, “Hello!”) I see three other people that I do not know:

  • Tom Roper who is a Information Resources Development Coordinator for the Brighton & Sussex Medical School in England.
  • Alwin Hawkins who seems to have added me years ago and seems to have kept me for my interest in Tinderbox (don’t know…).
  • Mark Blair who is a Website architect, Internet strategist and techno-sociologist.

Hello guys!

It’s odd how people get to appreciate things from authors that don’t know about it. I think this is fundamental that the Internet changes the relationship between authors and readers – more than it has already.

I’d love to see who are those 500+ people that have subscribed to this blog, but I fear I will never really know….

Kinja.com

Somehow I missed the site Kinja.com completely:

Screenshot of Kinja.com

The about page says:

Kinja is a weblog guide, collecting news and commentary from some of the best sites on the web. Visitors can browse items on topics, everything from food to sex. Or they can create a convenient personal digest, to track their favorite writers.
Weblogs are much talked about, but still challenging to navigate for the average web user. Kinja is designed to bring weblog writers to a broader audience, by making it easier to explore topics, posts and writers.

It seems to be some kind of community site for all kinds of meta-data about weblogs.

Geman politicians and weblogs

Here is a short review about some weblogs politicians from Germany are writing. Obviously many have ghost writers and don’t write themselves. They don’t get it. A weblog is not about updated news in a different way – it is an effective way to personally reach thousands of people. If readers feel the blog is written by hired ghostwriters, they probably turn away (because it is not the ghostwriters they want to elect). So essentially if they have ghostwriters (and I can’t see how they could do without), these must be VERY close to the candidate’s way of writing/thinking or they should appear as assistant bloggers. People are so fed up with mimicry, that they expect real voices now.

But the main story of the review is about content: What topics are these blogs touching? I am not quite sure, if that is really an important question. Politicians could put an list of press releases online if they want to state their views. Blogs are about authenticity and personality. People want to know what candidates have in mind – not how well they care about their impression.

Bloggers need not apply?

An interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about webloggers that apply for academic positions claiming that most blogs are not benefitial:

Our blogger applicants came off reasonably well at the initial interview, but once we hung up the phone and called up their blogs, we got to know “the real them” — better than we wanted, enough to conclude we didn’t want to know more.

Are weblogs different to forums?

Peter Baumgartner and Leiff Pullich (after giving a presentation about weblogs in education) had a discussion with others at the Fernuniverstität Hagen about the differences between classical forums and weblogs for discussion:

In several occasions we had no convincing argument why discussion via weblogs are different from news groups. The productive atmosphere today (oops: yesterday) generated a new argument:
News Groups are topics oriented where as weblogs are learner centered

I sense there is even a more important aspect that specifically needs to be reviewed when talking about personal weblogs (in contrast to group weblogs): the creation of identity. A weblog (to some degree also a group weblog for small groups) is “owned” by the author(s) and therefore create a completely different motivation for expression.

I’d like to repeat a section of my (somewhat outdatet) BlogTalk 1.0 paper:

Weblogs are not special because of their technology but because of the practice and authorship they shape. And it is a practice that will require a weblog author to be »connected« to processes, discourses and communities.

This seems to me is a fundamental difference to classical forums and discussion groups where individuals are only represented as part of the system – and not the system as part of the identity of the individual (in this sense Peter and Leiff are – I think – correct by asserting the difference is related to what is in the center).

It is also this “turning around” the role of the technology/medium which makes – in my opinion – weblogs a completely different approach in regard to didactical and educational scenarios.

As stated in the paper, this puts also a social pressure on the learner: the creation of individual identity is created by the nature and quality of interaction with the discourse – not by judgments of a single other individual (the teacher/coach).

I think there is much more to say about this, but I think weblogs remain a trend because they give individuals a feeling of identity, responsibility and relevance (that would otherwise need to be established by alternative means).

I’d like to point some examples of students in our department, that have started personal weblogs: e.g. Tim Bruysten and Tobias Jordans. There are also other examples of former students remaining active webloggers: Fabian Bolte, Katharina Birkenbach and Ingo Hinterding (both mentioned in the paper with other work BTW). I’d say their weblogs have become “individual” in the sense, that they all have their style, writing, topical focus, a.s.o. – In regard to the former students: they remain existent on my radar. And their professional future is to some small part a part of my identity as coach – so that’s why I like to put them in my blogroll.

Removing simplicity in blogging?

Mark Bernstein writes that Tinderbox is perfectly well suited for structured blogging. It’s basically a concept to add metadata to blog posts. Tinderbox originally was designed with personal content management and hypertext authoring in mind – not blogging. It could be a push for Eastgate if structured blogging is recieving wider attention. Dave Winer also points to data blogging which he says takes the idea further.

I am somewhat sceptical about data blogging. There are too many implementation details involved: weblog software developers would have a hard time to come up with simple solutions that users will like. Some power bloggers may anhance their HTML pages with this, but the real secret to success is syndication. I can’t imagine a simple way of how such meta data enriched blog posts will be aggregated and presented to users in a consistent way.

Paolo Valdemarin thinks similar.

Podcasting nonsense

My prediction for podcasting & weblogging: It will remain as a method for distributing files via RSS-style subscription. But I don’t think it will have much impact in the blogging area. Most podcasts created by bloggers are simply too boring. They can’t be indexed. Passages can’t be quoted. Most of all: you have to invest a lot more time to get the messages – there are no headlines you could scan.

Update: Somone (no name on site) posted a concept for bookmarking into audio files.

Presentation about weblogs in Hagen

I am going to present about weblogs in higher education at an event at the Univeristy of Hagen next week. I am not quite sure what the audience is expecting and what how this topic is going to fit into the day. I think the (german) presentations will be video taped and published online. In the afternoon there will be a roundtable about the assessment of curricular structures and the role e-learning activities could play.

I was thinking yesterday about playing some radical mindgames and sketch some speculative scenarios. But I reverted these thoughts, because they do not help the main topic of my presentation too much. It is more important to really get the idea across what kind of new quality weblogs are and to offer a good framing of the corresponding questions.

My intention is to approach the topic of “learning through authorship” from a different angle. The usual approaches have been to ask what changes might occur to the current situation. So if it would be possible to sketch out a completely arbitrary and utopic scenario then I hope it could help to come to research questions, that target some concepts ebout higher education that many of use take for granted. The weblog topic is an interesting jump start for this because in turns the role of learners from receiving ends into potential network nodes. My understanding is that this changes the rules of the game and we need to ask in which way it canges and if we could design and implement certain outcome.

Technorati now allows free tagging

Technorati now supports free tagging of weblog posts. This is similar to the tagging used at Del.icio.us and Flickr. Of course I like it. But right now I am not quite sure how to add these tags into my weblog layout. Should I replace my very own categories wit them? Hmmmm…

I should not forget to mention that Technorati has just finished its first Developer contest where developers were asked to invent ways to utilize the Technorati API.

Discourse vs. conversations

I had the chance to re-read Elmine Wijnias text »Understanding weblogs: a communicative perspective« where she applies Habermas’ theory of communicative action to weblogs. I agree with the conclusions of Wijnias’ text at large.

But then I stumbled across a dispute of a claim of me that I totally overlooked the first time. Elmine disqualifies my argument (made here) that generally »discourse« is not media-specific. Wijnias wrote:

Does the weblog serve as an ideal speech situation?
Wrede (2003) is not right when postulating that discourse can only take place across different media, by which Wrede primarily thinks of traditional media. Especially the high access capacity of weblogs is a large gain compared to traditional media like television and newspapers. Communication through these media is largely determined by a small group of people, television producers and journalists, and not accessible to others. Weblogs open up the opportunity for discourse to all.

I said here: »The common format to discuss online is a forum with topics, replies and threads. But discussion is not “discourse”. The latter is usually spread over several media (books, articles, TV, magazines), many interest groups, spanned over many years or decades and often is not even expressed verbally.«

I don’t really see what makes my argument wrong. My understanding of discourse is that it is defined by its omnipresence and transgressing nature. So there is no point in trying to claim the opposite. In other words: if it is constrained to one medium it is likely not a discourse – it may be a discussion or debate. My paper »Weblogs and discourse« therefore does reflect the speech act theory only to claim that weblog writing may include a very broad subtext and that we may think about hinting that subtext to the reader to improve the relevance of weblogs for the discourse. It is like we may be able to learn to use manual, facial and verbal gestures to enhance our speech.

Situated cognition and weblogs

Through Feedster I learned about this interesting post about “situated cognition” and weblogs. I can’t comment to that blog post, because I’d need a Bloggger account for that, so I am commenting here:

The link at the end of that post points to the slides of my presentation. I think the actual paper is much more valuable to readers that are interested in the topic.

Update: The original link was missing. The post is here.

2004 Academic Weblog Awards

The Guardian has published a weblog special. And the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle is just in the final two weeks of the “Best of blogs” award.

James Farmer (Incorporated Subversion) suggests to run an academic weblog award.

Update: You can now nominate educational weblogs:

You can nominate as many blogs as you like for as many categories as you think appropriate using the postings below, Nominations close 00.00 GMT on Friday 3rd December 2004.

How Blogs and Wiki fit together

Julian Elve describes how he uses Weblogs and Wikis together:

I’ve found the writing style that has started to evolve since I had this combination of tools is to scatter thoughts around the wiki-spaces until some juxtaposition forms that is sufficiently clear to create a blog-entry. The blog-entry becomes a picture of my thinking at a point in time and therefore essential to mapping out some kind of path. The state of the wiki pages continues to evolve — by looking where there is activity you can see which parts of my mental associations are currently to the forefront of attention.

I am on the edge of adding an overarching wiki space to the filtering blogs we use to support seminars. Thoughts like these will help to identify a good practice.

Enterprise knowledge management with weblogs

Michael Angeles (UrlGreyHot.com) has published a presentation called “Supporting enterprise knowledge management with weblogs: A weblog services roadmap”. (Slides [4.6 MB PDF], Slides with notes [4.6 MB PDF]). It was presented at the Computers in Libraries 2004 conference in Washington:

My talk proposed a roadmap for providing weblog-related information services and suggested approaches for dealing with the problem of making weblog output of use to the organization. The idea is that the library can position itself to support individuals and communities of practice that express the need to use grass-roots tools for knowledge capture and dissemination such as weblogs and wikis. I talked briefly about the benefits of using weblogs for individual knowledge creation as opposed to using larger KM solutions selected from the top down, and the implications for IT of an information ecology with a diverse set of people using different technologies for publishing data in a distributed manner all over the intranet. In the near term I suggested first steps towards supporting knowledge creation with RSS. I suggested methods for providing access to aggregated blog output as next steps. And as a far off goal, I discussed the integration of output from sources such as blogs with other enterprise information using social software and social network analysis.

BlogTalk 2.0 – live stream problems

BlogTalk 2.0 is just about to begin. I regret I couldn’t make it this year to the conference although I would be happy to contribute to the discourse and meet Mark Bernstein and the Trotts.

So I was happy to see that there was a live stream prepared, but unfortunatly even the modem stream doesn’t really offer anything but sporadic image updates and dull audio fragments. Probably the organizers did not expect so many people trying to watch live.

It’s is not possible to understand what the speaker is saying. And – oh dear – most of the image also shows the audience and not the speaker with the slides (Why wouldn’t they just zoom in? I don’t get it. This is kind of useless anyway…):

And apparently the light circumstances in the room make it even hard for the people there to see the slides.

If the transmission quality is so bad I think it would be better to switch to an audio live stream and/or consider taking the video from the beamer directly. And if all this doesn’t help then there shouldn’t be a stream at all, so that the bandwidth can be used by attending bloggers to update their pages.

Update 1: The DSL stream now works (needed to remove the cache!) and it is better than the modem stream! But the audio is still really bad (and it’s coming from one speaker only – so is there a mono input encoded as stereo?)

Update 2: The inhouse sound system is striking! So maybe there will be better sound soon as well!

Update 3: The DSL stream is working much better on the second half of the day. But audio is still very bad.